Rivertown Community (Pumpkintown)
The present day crossroads community of Rivertown developed around the intersection of Campbellton –
Redwine Road (S.R. #70) and Rivertown Road. Rivertown has an earlier history entwined in the
Pumpkintown settlement located just to the west, on the banks of the Chattahoochee. It is believed that
the old Pumpkintown Ferry (also known as Hammond’s Ferry) was originally a main river crossing associated with the Sandtown Trail and the name ‘Pumpkintown’ may have been the name given to an earlier Creek Indian village at the site. Judge Walter Colquitt was one of the first white landowners in the area and established a plantation at the ferry crossing, possibly as early as 1825. By 1837, Pumpkintown was described as “a cluster of five houses and a store, of course at Hammond’s Ferry on the Chattahoochee.” Smith’s Ferry, slightly upstream from the Pumpkintown Ferry, also served the Pumpkintown and Rivertown communities.
Following Colquitt’s move to Columbus, Georgia (after the failed bid to attract the site of the county seat
on his land), settlement shifted eastward to Rivertown. Originally known as Cross Anchor, the
community of Rivertown began to appear on maps of the area as early as 1847.35 The economic focus of
Rivertown revolved around the holdings of the Yates brothers, (James, William and Joel) who had moved
into the area from Spartanburg, South Carolina during the 1830s. The Yates family quickly grew rich
through the establishment and ownership of a cotton gin on their property. They also assumed operation of Rivertown’s local post office, which had first opened in 1832 under postmaster Joseph N. Spencer. In 1886, the Georgia State Gazetteer and Planter’s Dictionary noted that Rivertown “has a tributary population of 300, two Baptist and Methodist churches, common schools and several gins and grist mills operated by both steam and water power. Cotton, 400 bales and general produce the shipments. Mail semi-weekly.”
The, Jones – Yates House (FU-14) (c. 1870-1879), located at 5088 Rivertown Road, was built by William
Yates. It is unique for the time and place and provides an indication of the family’s wealth during this
period. The Italianate style, gabled-ell house type has brick masonry exterior walls painted yellow, brick
quoins at the corners and segmental arches over the windows. Two, wood frame and clapboard siding,
rear additions were built during the early half of the twentieth. Outbuildings on the property include a
front gabled garage, storage shed and a well with a concrete, gable-roofed well house.
By 1890, William Yates had fallen into financial difficulties and in 1891 the Georgia Loan and Trust
Company assumed title of the house. It was later put up for auction and purchased by James Jethro Jones,
another Rivertown landowner, in 1894. Jones and his son, Joseph also took over the Yates’ cotton gin
and post office and expanded their holdings to include an electric powered grist mill and general store, all
of which are no longer extant.
Two extant saddlebag houses are remnants of the agriculturally based economy of the Rivertown
community during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The house at 10775 Cedar Grove
Road (FU-12) (c. 1890-1899) may have been associated with property owned by the Jones and Yates
families. Another house (FU-13) (c. 1880-1890) on Rivertown Road, west of S.R #70 is in a ruinous
condition. These houses are all that remain of what was a number of simple, saddlebag house types built
in close proximity to each other along Rivertown Road and possibly used by black tenant farmers in the
area. On privately held land closer to the river and ferry crossing, are ruins of other various houses, a
small family cemetery for the Tanner family and an African-American cemetery.
Above History is from South Fulton Scenic Byways - Historic Context By: Patrick Sullivan & Jessica Lavandier